Working with a flexible work schedule is a growing trend for employers, especially given the employee demand. We highlight what a flex schedule is, share the pros and cons from both perspectives, and even answer some FAQs on flex schedules.

Table of contents
  1. What Is a Flexible Schedule? 
  2. What Types of Flexible Schedules Are Available? 
  3. How to Make a Flexible Schedule Work for Your Business
  4. Pros and Cons of Flexible Schedules for Employers
  5. Pros and Cons of Flexible Schedules for Employees
  6. FAQs
  7. The Bottom Line on Flexible Schedules

Working with a flexible schedule is a growing trend for employers, especially given the employee demand. Let’s break down what a flex schedule is, its pros and cons for employers and employees, and even answer some FAQs on the topic.

The demand for a flexible schedule has been growing significantly over the last decade.

Even before COVID-19, surveys showed that 87% of employees wanted the opportunity to work from home at least some of the time.

Half are even willing to take a pay cut in exchange.

A flexible work schedule allows employees to work at their peak productivity levels and gives them the ability to lead a healthy work-life balance. In fact, a flex schedule is becoming more common as more Millennials and Generation Z employees are entering the workforce.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the purpose of flexible schedules, their various pros and cons for employees and employers alike, and how to effectively implement a flexible schedule into your business.

What Is a Flexible Schedule? 

A flexible schedule provides employees with an alternative to the standard 8 am-5 pm but still totals to a 40-hour workweek. In general, that means that there is no strict schedule that is the same for everyone. Instead, employees get to choose shifts or time slots that fit them the most throughout the day (or night).

A flex schedule allows employees to vary the times they begin and end their workday, as long as they are still doing the same amount of work and keep the same or higher level of productivity.

What Types of Flexible Schedules Are Available? 

Whether you need to work outside of the office from time to time or can only work during the weekends, a flex schedule can be a win-win scenario for both employers and employees and can take many forms. 

Compressed Workweek 

A compressed workweek is perhaps the most common flex schedule as it includes a four-day workweek with employees working four ten-hour days. This type of flexible schedule gives your team an additional day off so they can enjoy a work-life balance

Typically, a compressed workweek works best in office settings. However, if you plan right, it can fit any business like retail, restaurants, and so on. Other benefits of compressed workweeks include better rest and less commuting.

Daily Flexible Schedule 

Through a daily flex schedule, employees have a couple of options at hand:

  • Start early and finish early
  • Start working later and stay on duty later
  • Take extra time during their lunch break, which is later made up
  • Working during the night
  • Have flexible weekends, or fixed days on custom days, instead of standard weekends

A daily flexible schedule makes it possible to work from 10 am to 3 am or 7 am to 4 pm. This kind of flexible schedule differs from the standard hours and is decided on by the employee and the employer.

Flex Time 

With flex-time, the employer is not obsessed over what time you clock in. Instead, they want you to work the standard amount of hours you agreed on and get all your tasks done. This means you could come to the office when you want and leave when you want! 

As long as the employee is responsible for their time and achieves their goals, that’s all that matters. So if they only spent 15 hours in the office and the rest was done from home, hey, more power to you.

Split Shift

A split shift schedule means that you are splitting your hours throughout the day. For example, you may put in four hours during the morning, two more in mid-afternoon, and end your evening by putting in your last two hours. 

Another variant is putting in four hours in the morning and then four hours at night. The split shift schedule simply means that your schedule for the day is split to allow for other life happenings in between.

Based on everything we have outlined above, flexible work schedules can result in an effective and efficient work process. With the growing changes in the workforce, you must stay ahead of the trends to ensure employee engagement and satisfaction.

Alternative Schedule

This kind of flexible schedule makes it easier for employees who can’t work a typical five-day workweek. These employees need a schedule that enables their responsibilities, such as child care and other personal matters.

An alternative schedule makes it easy for employees to work on the weekends, partake in second shifts, or even night shifts (all types of word shifts), giving them more freedom during day hours.

different kinds of flexible work schedules (infographic)

Flexplace

Flexplace acts as a predetermined schedule designed to make it easier for employees to work from home or any remote location that isn’t their office. This can range from a few hours or days of the week to a full-time basis. Flexplace scheduling can be implemented in three ways:

  • Telecommuting: Using computers and digital devices to tackle time and location-related limitations, telecommuting allows employees to work either remotely or in the workplace.
  • Hoteling: Similar to telecommuting, workers reserve separate co-working space to perform their job, reducing office space costs.
  • Snowbird programs: The ability to move work arrangements to a warmer region during the winter. Workers in communication and telemarketing businesses benefit heavily from snowbird programs.

Remote Working

This type of flex schedule allows employees to perform all work away from the office on a temporary or permanent basis. 

Today, many businesses embrace remote work, giving employees more flexibility than ever to work and live wherever they choose. 

Remote work programs open recruitment to a much wider range of candidates with relevant experience and skills.

Part-Time Positions

Part-time work is a valuable substitute for workers who can’t work as many hours or days as colleagues with full-time work schedules. This kind of flexibility is for workers who have other commitments outside of work, such as parenting or studying. 

Job Sharing

In order to complete tasks efficiently and effectively, managers might consider implementing work-sharing or job-sharing programs in their business. This is basically the division of full-time responsibilities amongst two or more part-time workers. 

The chosen employees will divide each work week between them, ensuring that the “full-time” job schedule is still complete.

Extra Paid Time Off (PTO)

By increasing employees’ paid time off, you’re providing them with an incentive for continuing to carry out work routines that can easily become monotonous.

Increased vacation time, or even unlimited vacation time, are policies that many businesses are seriously considering to motivate their workers to perform to their full potential.

How to Make a Flexible Schedule Work for Your Business

Truth be told, flexible work environments can make an employer’s life extremely difficult. After all, it can be a logistical nightmare trying to find the right employees to complete specific jobs depending on their availability. It can be a complicated way to run a business, especially if you are working with employees in different locations and time zones. 

With a handful of simple steps, though, employers can make flex schedules work seamlessly for the benefit of their business.

  1. Establish Core Work Hours

Getting a team to collaborate from different time zones and locations can be tricky. That’s why establishing a common work window is essential. 

For example, that core work window could be from 11 am until 4 pm and during the week. Only during this time can team meetings and task delegation be performed. 

With this disciplined base, employees know exactly when are the optimal times to communicate with each other and upper management while also being granted the autonomy they require.

  1. Know Your Employees on a Personal Level

In this day and age, it’s not enough to simply know your employees in terms of the jobs they perform and the skills they bring to the table. 

If you have a clear picture of who they are as individuals, and what commitments they have outside of work, then you have a better understanding of their availability and everyone is more likely to trust each other. 

As a result, tasks can be managed more efficiently. It also means that you know which individuals are best suited for specific jobs. This also reduces the chances of needing to micromanage employees.

Getting to know your remote employees on a personal level can be challenging. But there are some steps you can take to make it easier:

  • Perform regular video call catchups: It’s important to check in with employees on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly. The bare minimum of a 15-30 minute daily catchup can make communication at a remote level much more effective.
  • Be understanding: It’s important to give remote employees the benefit of the doubt, trusting that they’re getting the work done even when they’re not around.
  • Ask questions: Spend less time focusing on yourself or the task at hand and give your employees a little bit of attention. Show some interest in their lives. This builds mutual respect and shows your workforce that you care about them.
  1. Maximize Your Team Meetings

While team meetings can be time-consuming and get in the way of the actual work, they are essential to establishing team spirit and morale. In order to make the most of these meetings to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules, you should:

  • Be direct: Don’t let the team go off on a pointless tangent. Keep things concise and on topic.
  • Send out an agenda: Giving the team a pre-meeting agenda about what the meeting will cover beforehand can make them prepared.
  • Wrap things up: Provide your employees with actionable tips that they can apply to their jobs beyond the meeting.
  1. Use a Digital Scheduling Software Solution

A digital scheduling software solution can help employers prepare detailed, easy-to-read flexible schedules for their workforce. Employees can make personal adjustments to the schedule from the comfort of their mobile devices to ensure that all shifts are prepared in advance.

Software of this kind, like Connecteam, can allow managers to:

  • Duplicate or set recurring schedules, use drag & drop, or open shifts up for grabs.
  • Get alerts if hours have exceeded your predefined daily or weekly limitations.
  • Add info to each shift, like time, location, tasks, notes, attachments, etc.
  • Get notified if employees accept or reject a shift, check in late, or complete a task.
  • Add or edit shifts, swap users, assign tasks, and more.
  • Schedule shifts in multiple ways (single, multiple, import, or templates).

Manage Flexible Work Schedules Like a Pro

Maximize your employees’ availability and make their schedules more flexible with Connecteam.

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If you’re still not convinced that you need a flex schedule, let’s dive into the pros and cons from an employer and employee perspective.

Pros and Cons of Flexible Schedules for Employers

Pros for Employers

You, the employer, could benefit from implementing flexible work schedules in various ways. These include:

  • Improved employee engagement and morale: Employees with a work-life balance are so much happier and fulfilled which leads to better employee morale and engagement. Plus, it also means they won’t bother to look for a new job somewhere else. 
  • Easier recruitment: Including a flex schedule gives you a much higher possibility of attracting the current top talent. It’s no secret that today’s job market is highly competitive. So you need to cater to the current workforce with the right incentives and benefits if you’re going to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Reduced employee turnover: A flexible work schedule might become a key element in your employee retention strategies, which can reduce employee turnover. When employees are engaged, happy, and satisfied they aren’t looking for work elsewhere.
  • Higher productivity levels: Studies indiciate much higher productivity levels and increased morale when employees are offered a flexible schedule.
  • Fewer no-shows or late clock-ins: Employees with a flex schedule are able to easily plan their personal schedules around their shifts, so clocking in on time happens naturally. In fact, this study shows that employees who have the opportunity to make alternative work schedules to suit their needs are more likely to clock in on time. With a flex schedule and an accurate time-tracking app, you help dramatically lower no-shows and late clock-ins. 

Cons for Employers

With all of that said, flexible work schedules aren’t necessarily the perfect arrangement for the employer. For example:

  • Can create a lack of trust: Most managers are used to seeing their employees clock in, do their job, and clock out. This allows them oversight on what their employees do all day. However, a flex schedule relies on trust. Some managers may not have total trust in their employees, which can cause negative relationships. 
  • Employees may abuse the flexibility: Employees who work from home could partake in household tasks, watch TV, or take a nap. Some of their coworkers who work the regular 9-to-5 may regard them as slackers, as employers can’t monitor productivity with their own eyes.
  • Reduces customer satisfaction: Some customers may feel annoyed when a certain employee isn’t available. When you have a customer-centric job role, then it may only allow for some flexible scheduling. Maybe working from home an entire day just isn’t possible.

Pros and Cons of Flexible Schedules for Employees

Pros for Employees

Your employees could also benefit from using flexible work schedules in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Healthy work-life balance: From family obligations and pursuing other passions to combating health issues or avoiding a long commute, the reasons are endless. According to studies, 16.8% of millennials chose their jobs because they can achieve work-life balance. Additionally, when deciding where to work, flexibility is a top priority.
  • Saves time and money for commuting: With a flex schedule, employees can work remotely, which means they can avoid traffic and other stressful events when commuting. Plus, employees can save money on fuel and time lost while commuting.
  • More opportunities to grow: When it comes to hiring and employee retention, companies have to offer employee development opportunities, especially as that’s what millennials and Generation Z are demanding. In fact, Gallup reported that “87% of millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job.” With flexible scheduling, your employees can attend professional courses or classes when they aren’t working so they can achieve their educational goals and achieve higher professional skills related to their job roles. 
employee balances work and life with flexible work schedule
  • Lower costs for childcare: Compressed, daily, and flex work schedules all offer parents the opportunity to greatly lower the cost of childcare. If one parent works traditional hours, the parent with the flex schedule can be available for school drop-offs while the other does pick-ups. This balance offers parents the ease of managing two full-time jobs without the need for childcare.
  • Healthier well-being: 68% of employees with inflexible schedules reported an “unreasonable level of work stress.” At the same time, those with a flex schedule reported substantially less work-related stress levels. The physical and mental health of your team is important to the bottom line, to the customers, to the turnover rate, and to their own sanity in their personal life.

Cons for Employees

Just like employers, flexible work schedules can also pose downsides for employees too. These include:

  • Scheduling can become complicated: Employees who regularly work in an office environment can find it hard to work at their best when their coworkers don’t have the same work schedule. It may be complicated to plan for team meetings as coordinating around everyone’s flexible hours can cause a headache.
  • Doesn’t suit all roles: Not all job roles are suitable for flexible scheduling, like customer-facing positions. Therefore, these job roles require set, regular hours. For employees like this, they may resent their coworkers who have more freedom in their schedule.
  • Can create unsafe practices: If an employee works much earlier or later than their coworkers, then they’re often in the office alone or almost alone. This can lead to liability issues because if an accident or hazard occurs, the employee has no one to turn to. 

FAQs

What is the purpose of a flexible schedule?

A flex schedule allows employees to adjust their work hours so that they don’t necessarily correspond with traditional work schedules such as 9-5 to 8-6. As the name suggests, flex schedules provide flexibility for both the employees and employer, as long as the former are still completing their contracted number of hours per week.

What factors should you consider when creating a flexible schedule?

In order to create a relevant flex schedule for your employees, you need to assess the current culture of your workforce and identify the individual and collective needs of your employees. 

From there, you can start to build policies and structures that make flex schedules in your workplace realistic and sustainable. You need to find an effective tool to create the actual schedule, whether that be through manual processes or with a digital solution. Once implemented, it’s important to monitor the success of the schedule and adjust it as you go.

Which questions should you ask your employees when creating a flexible schedule?

Some questions worth asking your employees when designing a flex schedule for them include:

  • Can your role be performed remotely?
  • Can it be performed at any time of the day?
  • Is flexible scheduling already conducted in the business? Is it successful?
  • Do employees currently have an effective work-life balance?

The Bottom Line on Flexible Schedules

It’s important that you weigh the pros and cons of providing a flexible work schedule for both your employee and your business. We’ve highlighted numerous benefits, from increased productivity to less employee turnover.

While there may be some disadvantages, with careful planning, an effective employee management strategy, and an employee scheduling app, you can easily combat the cons mentioned.

Create Your Flexible Work Schedule Efficiently with Connecteam